The last question in the unofficial and awesome Pronominal Proposal is
Q30. I heard that someone was removed as a moderator for pronoun-related behaviour that seems, according to the above, as if they did nothing to violate the Code of Conduct. What's up with that?
A. Someone was removed as a moderator for pronoun-related matters. There's an ongoing dispute as to whether that was justified, and this isn't the right place to discuss it. Our policy going forward is what's described here.
And then it hit me: the CoC discussion should indeed be decoupled from the Monica-issue. But I personally do not manage to do so, so I need your help with that.
I'd like to decouple Monica from the CoC because my viewpoints are:
- Improved CoC: Fantastic idea. It is great that our community is taking the lead in making non-binary people (and others) more welcome. Very hard to get it right, but if any community can do it, it's ours.
- Firing Monica: Terrible idea and even worse execution. This should never have happened and should be rectified.
I'd like to support SE in their quest to get a better CoC in place, and oppose SE in the way they deal with Monica. And if I have to chose, I noticed that I can't conscientiously support the CoC without supporting Monica. So supporting Monica would win over supporting the CoC, and supporting both is what I'd like to accomplish.
The acceptance of the CoC is intertwined with the firing of Monica because actions are louder than words. Therefore I consider her firing and the actions leading up to it and following it to be more representative of what the CoC means than the official FAQ. This is what the firing of Monica tells me about the CoC that prevents me from decoupling the two:
- You are not allowed to question the CoC: It seems that Monica got fired for asking clarifications about what is and is not allowed according to the CoC. This sets a precedent where people are not sure how to behave, and too afraid to ask.
- The CoC is a Code of Thought: Monica seems to have been fired not because she conducted inappropriately but because she thought 'inappropriately'. She seems to be fired because of what they thought she would do, not what she actually did. Someone apparently even explicitly said that her values are out of alignment.
- The CoC is not applied equally: No action seems to be taken against the person who claimed Monica's values are wrong. It should be irrelevant whose worldview is 'more correct', we want to include everyone.
- Your history will be combed for retroactive violations of the CoC: It seems that people went through Monica's history to find evidence of her misbehavior years ago, disregarding any subsequent changes for the better. Everyone of us has a moment where they first encounter the situation where they need to address a non-binary person, and it would surprise me if people get it right that first time. This first time will be on Stack Exchange for many people, so mistakes will be made.
- You will not get clear warnings: Monica says she did not interpret any communication of SE as a warning. One day you might think everything is fine and the next day you are punished.
- Existing processes can be disregarded at will: The process for firing moderators was not followed. So anything that SE says (e.g. the FAQ) can't be relied upon.
- Stack Exchange will bad mouth you on the internet and press: See the register, and twitter.
- You have virtually no recourse if you believe you've been wronged: Monica has a hard time to get anyone to respond to her to even tell her what she did wrong. You will be left in the dark if SE deems you violated the CoC.
Even though I use Monica's name quite a bit here, I don't intend this question to be about her but about how her case affects the CoC. My hope is that the Monica issue is a one-off case and will not be representative of how potential violations of the CoC will be handled in the future. But I'm not sure.
It seems that SE has a hard time climbing out of the hole they dug when firing Monica. Maybe they letting everything go through legal and are reluctant to apologize and rectify the situation not because they don't want to but because of legal reasons. Or they are just stubborn. Either way, we cannot expect SE to resolve the dispute with Monica soon and we should find our own closure. But I fail to do so myself.
The above 8 points from Monica's case are etched in my head as associated to the CoC. This prevents me from discussing the CoC on its own; I read every remark of "accidental mistakes are fine" and the like with a voice in my head saying "but that's not how the CoC is enforced in actuality". How do I break this pattern?